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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The eastern extremity of the stadium with the ruined curved side (left). The north side is still well preserved below the street in the foreground, whereas the south side was largely dismantled or went down the slope.
The Bouleuterion in its final state

Photos courtesy Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project. Click on images to enlarge.
by Marc Waelkens

Spoliation Study: August 10-11, 2005

Spolia are re-used building materials that include elements of architectural ornament, and spoliation is the story of building demolition obtained through an analysis of the dated contexts in which spolia occur. Spolia are particularly common in late antiquity, and the careful study of when and where they occur allows us to say a lot about the history of buildings they were taken from--whether these buildings were conserved for a long time, demolished early, or allowed slowly to decay. A spoliation study was carried out by Luke Lavan (postdoctoral fellow at the KULeuven) involved surveying all building contexts dating to late antiquity (including the late fortification, churches, shops, houses and repairs to secular public buildings). It is already clear that there were striking differences in the way in which different classical buildings were treated in late antiquity. The south side of the stadium was thus partly demolished (the north side still is almost completely preserved below the road to Isparta, whereas the eastern extremity lies in a ruined state) perhaps to build the late fourth c./early fifth century A.D. city wall. A later martyr's church built on the site does not seem to have used a single stone of it. Other structures, such as the theatre and the late Hellenistic Doric fountain house, were never spoliated, despite being located outside the city wall. For the latter structure the reason is obvious: after the late fifth-early sixth century A.D. earthquake, it was one of the only still functioning fountains (it still functions today after its anastylosis). Hence its courtyard and water basins were filled up, whereas terracotta pipes took the water directly to locations in the lower city. Of buildings inside the fortifications, we see very different treatments. Some buildings, such as the Tiberian gateway of the Lower Agora, was partially spoliated after the earthquake around A.D. 500 had leveled most of it, in order to build structures immediately adjacent to them and even a new monumental stairway leading to the Lower Agora. The conversion of the temple of Apollo Klarios into a church also followed this model, using building material found on site proper to create the new structure. But the stadium church was built from material systematically shipped across the city from ruined structures (a Dionysos Temple originally probably standing near the theatre and parts of the shrine of the divine Hadrian and Antoninus Pius) and reerected on this site. Furthermore the Odeion and Bouleuterion provided spoils for buildings some distance away from their place of origin. Whilst one is tempted to imagine a spolia trade behind both these phenomena, one can only talk of systematic demolition in the case of the Temple of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, the Dionysos Temple and the gymnasium to the east of the theatre. As is now becoming clear from excavation, the Odeion was repaired in late antiquity, and so the use of its seats for building elsewhere might indicate repair work designed to eliminate damaged elements rather than serious spoliation, a phenomenon observed at Aphrodisias for the fourth century A.D.

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